Keeping your clients happy – is the answer simply to listen?
We’re living in an age where we are getting fatter, unhealthier and more stressed than ever before. People want someone to show them the solutions to these problems now, more than ever. How can we encourage these people to sign up with a personal trainer, especially when a PT appears right in front of them?
Latest figures suggest that just under 13% of the UK population are members of a health club. Of these, about 3-5% have regular personal training sessions, which means that less than 1% of people in this country have a personal trainer in the gym. Of course there are those who have PT sessions in their home or outdoors, but even if we were to optimistically double the numbers we’re still looking at a figure under 2%. Looking just at the gym figures, only 3-5% of people are there because they want results and in most cases they aren't achieving them.
Is it because personal training is too expensive? Clearly there is a market for one-to-one training as there are many successful PTs delivering 30+ sessions per week at £30-£50 or more per session. So for a while now the industry has looked at itself in the mirror and asked “What can we do to sell personal training?” and “What do the successful trainers do that gets that 3-5% to part with their cash?”
Surely 95-97% of gym members are a big enough market to target? We know they're in the gym because they want results and a significant proportion of them must have disposable income to spend on achieving them, so perhaps we're not asking the right questions. Maybe we should be finding out what most people actually want, rather than trying to work out how to sell them what we think they need.
A growing trend in the industry is the importance of coaching as opposed to training or instructing. Typically we are very quick to tell our clients what to do - we are the experts and they must follow our orders to achieve success. But what if they don't want to do 6am workouts? What if they hate squats? What if they really don't want to buy organic food?
What we really need to do is listen to what our clients want to achieve, then work with them and agree a plan. Which type of exercise and activity do they enjoy? What will stimulate them to achieve their goal so that they look forward to the PT sessions and not see them as some sort of physical punishment? Adherence to behaviour change is most successful when the behaviour is enjoyable. By doing things we enjoy we are far more likely to stick to them.
So we must create positive experiences for people - they must want to come to the gym because it's fun to be there, not go because they have to, or feel they should.
How do we do that? A shift of mindset is needed. Why do so many people love boxing pad work? I've lost count of the number of clients who say "It's not really exercise, is it?"
Group sessions are fantastic for promoting fun and sociable experiences - interaction with others is a key factor in the enjoyment of activities. If we can create an atmosphere of play in a group environment, small or large, and each member of the group has a similar goal to work towards, we have the beginnings of a recipe for success.
In short we're far more likely to keep heading towards our destination if we really want to go on the journey.
So listen well and absorb what your clients tell you. As Winston Churchill famously said, ‘’Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."